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The need for foster parents is great in Arizona. There are currently over 14,000 children in care of the state (dcs.az.gov). Many of these children live in congregate care: shelters or group homes or institutions where dozens of other foster children live. These children do not have a family setting to stay in.More foster homes are needed to give children a safe environment to stay in while one or both parents work to reunite with their children. This could take days, weeks, months or longer. Some of these children will never be able to return home, and they need a permanent family to love and care for them through adoption.
In Arizona, if a parent or parents have been found to be unfit and/or unsafe to continue caring for a child or children in their care, the children are removed from the home and become wards of the state. The state, DCS, will first look for relatives who the child can be placed with—these relatives need to be able to pass fingerprint and background checks as well. If no viable relatives can be found, then the child is placed in a foster home or in congregate care if there are no homes available. Families can become licensed for foster care by attending an orientation, finding an agency that’s the best fit for them, and attending a PSMAPP or Deciding Together class.
The state requires that foster parents meet the following criteria:
In addition to the state requirements, Arms of Love is looking for families who view foster care as a ministry and who want to partner with us to provide hope and care to hurting children and families through a Christ-centered ministry. We work with Christian families of all denominations who have a passion for sharing Christ and sharing His love with the children they care for, as well as the child's family and team.
The orientation is the first step recommended when finding out if foster care is right for you. Orientations will look different depending on the region you live in. Rural counties like Yuma, Mohave, Coconino, and Yavapai will have 1-on-1 orientations—this takes place between a foster care staff member and a family. Pima county has the option for doing a 1-on-1 orientation at the Tucson office, and Maricopa county has the option for attending a state-hosted orientation, or a ministry-based orientation.
The ministry-based orientation will go over the same perspective that we at Arms of Love have: that foster care and adoption are ministries and foster and adoptive parents are missionaries in the mission field, sharing Christ’s love with the children in their homes. The state orientation will go over the requirements of foster care and a few other basic elements.
The next step is choosing an agency. When choosing an agency, we recommend you consider the following:
After choosing an agency, you will go through Foster Parent College. The training is provided at no cost and will prepare you to become a foster parent. You will learn about the rewards, expectations and process for becoming a foster or adoptive parent and meet professionals who work with children in foster care and adoption. You will also hear about the challenges and the successes you can expect to experience as a foster or adoptive parent.
During the class, you will be assigned a licensing worker who will be the one to come alongside you during your foster care journey. Your agency and licensing worker are your partners.
In addition to licensing and certifying safe and loving homes for children in need, Arms of Love also supports and encourages foster families to share the gospel and Christ's love with the child(ren) who come into their homes. No matter the amount of time the child spends in an Arms of Love home, the love and care they receive makes a lasting impact. By becoming a licensed foster parent, you could help a child stay in their own neighborhood, at their own school and connected with the friends they have. This love and care is needed in every community throughout Arizona.
If you are interested in becoming licensed for foster care, please call (800) 678-0648 to schedule a one-on-one orientation meeting.